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As a non-destructive inspection, the explosive detection process facilitates the determination of whether a container/object contains explosives or not. Usually, security personnel carry out this process at ports, airports, railway stations, and borders. In the detection process, they use an explosive trace detector, which is of different types. The security personnel use different tools, from animals (dogs) to mechanical and AI-based explosive detectors. Have a look at what they use to detect explosives:


Security officers use specially trained dogs in the explosive detection process. The dogs use their noses, which are highly sensitive, in the process. They are very useful and effective. In the training process, experienced handlers train dogs to identify the smell of general explosive materials. After identification of an explosive material, the dogs report the handlers. The use of dogs in explosive detection began in 1970 in the USA.

Honey bees

In this explosive detection process, experts use advanced video computer software and honey bees. They monitor the strategic reaction of bees. The bees serve for two days after training and come back to their hive. Many biotechnological firms state that trained honey bees are more effective in comparison with dogs. However, this method is commercially not available.


Based on microsensor, it is a unique explosive trace detector. It doesn’t need a carrier and radioactive source. Being fast on detection, it sends audio or video alerts after detecting an explosive material. Further, it doesn’t respond to medicines and perfumes and has a lower operational cost.

Colorimetrics and automated colorimetrics

When it comes to the use of the simplest, widely established, and extensively used methods for explosive detection, colorimetric test kits are an ideal method. This method contains the application of a chemical reagent to a sample or unknown material. And experts keep a close watch on the colour reaction, which indicates the presence of explosive materials. The major explosive materials are nitrate ester, nitroaromatic explosives, inorganic nitrate-based explosives, and nitramine explosives. As many explosive materials contain nitrogen, the detection is aimed to trace the presence of nitrogenous compounds.

Mechanical scent detection

In the current world, several types of machines are available for detecting explosive materials. Common mechanical technologies for the detection of explosives are IMS (ion mobility spectrometry, MS (mass spectrometry), and GC gas chromatography.


The techniques for detecting explosive materials based on IMS (ion mobility spectrometer) are DMS (differential mobility spectrometry), ITMS (ion trap mobility spectrometry), other technologies are AFP (amplifying fluorescent polymers), and chemiluminescence.

X-ray machines

X-ray machines with specific designed modules look at the density of the objects to detect explosives during the inspection. These machines use computed axial tomography-based systems. They have specific software to decode the false coding and detect the presence of explosives.

Silicon nanowires

Configured as field effect transistors, silicon nanowires are highly effective in detecting explosives like PETN, TNT, and RDX. In this detection method, experts spread vapour or a liquid over the suspect explosive. Molecules of explosive material have an interaction with the surface of nanowires, and there is significant change in nanowire’s electrical properties. The change indicates the presence of explosive materials.


Experts use several different tools for the detection of explosives. The tools are different and include the use of animals (dogs and honey bees), mechanical devices, and IT solutions, including specific X-ray machines. As per your convenience and wish, you can use any one of the tools menioned in the write-up.

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